Although moving to a new school, whether because of a family move or by promotion, can be a source of stress for your child, there are many things you can do to help them make the adjustment.
First, please remember that it’s normal for children to resist change and feel stress about going to a new school. Be patient .. patient .. patient!
- Discuss the move or school change with your child well in advance. Remember that familiarity can reduce stress. Include your child as much as possible in plans for the upcoming school year.
- Be enthusiastic about the change.
- Research all you can about the new school, and let your child help you with the research. What is their mascot? Will your child walk or ride a bus? What after school activities are available? What are the school colors?
- Are there any newcomer groups at the school? What about orientation programs? Buddy programs?
- If you know family members or friends who’ve changed schools recently, encourage them to share their experiences with your child.
- Tour the new school if possible.
- Practice getting to and from school. Where is the bus stop? Where will you pick them up and drop them off. Walk or ride to the new school to familiarize your child with the route.
After school starts, watch for signs of stress in your child:
- repeatedly refusing to go to school
- throwing tantrums whenever school is mentioned
- recurring meltdowns when you try to bring them to school
- suffering separation anxiety and needing you more than they have in recent months or years
- changes in sleeping or eating habits
If you notice signs of stress in your child, it’s important to talk to them about it. Meet with their teachers or administrators to try to target the sources of your child’s discomfort. School counselors and/or school psychologists can provide assistance.
Most importantly, keep the lines of communication open with your child. Talk it out. Ask open-ended questions. Spend time together. Let them know it’s ok to talk about how they feel about their new school, and that change brings about both positive and negative – help them identify those things and bring balance between the good & the not-so-good.
You’ll all survive this with patience and a positive outlook. Good luck and have a great school year!
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